SAFARI seems to no longer work
for comments...use another browser?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Real / irreal

Clive photographs the title page.
Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.
Design by Mary-Frances Glover Burt.
For an essay of mine having to do with what is called fantastic and what is called realistic, please go here to the Mercer blog. And here's a taste:
    Given the way books are discussed in our time, it’s possible to say that my A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is a realistic narrative about a Depression-era’s orphan’s struggle to find his place, or that Glimmerglass is a search that takes place in a solid, realistic world but does the fantastic thing of taking the muse as a possible, literal figure—and at one point borrows from the ancient form of the somnium, or dream vision. But I would not reach for genre terms to describe either of them. For me, books are on a kind of thread or continuum, moving from one way of telling the truth to another. All that matters to me is whether they are good books or not.
     All art is created, shaped, dreamed into existence. What matters is not genre or categorization but the extent to which a fabric made of words—the warp and weft making up a kind of little maze—contains an Ariadne’s thread of energy that leads to larger life.
Comments are open there. I'd love to know what other people think about these things and have already gotten an interesting letter from a fellow novelist... Please leave a comment at the Mercer site if you have an opinion!


  1. But there are certainly books that fit neatly into given genres, like mysteries, for instance, and they can also be good of their kinds.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.